Extending Breast Cancer Therapy

iStock_26372146_MEDIUMIf you're a woman who's had breast cancer, you may be taking a class of drugs known as 'aromatase inhibitors' to help reduce your risk of a a recurrence. Most women are recommended to take these medications for five years either following drug therapy with tamoxifen, or as initial therapy.  In either case, is there a benefit to continuing aromatase inhibitors for another five years?  That's the substance of a study Rick and I discuss on PodMed this week, as published in the New England Journal of Medicine. And the good news is, yes, there is additional benefit.  What exactly did the study do?

Over 1900 postmenopausal women with early stage, hormone receptor positive breast cancer were enrolled in this trial. Median follow-up was 6.3 years. Women usually entered the study after having received tamoxifen following their diagnosis of early breast cancer for five years, followed by an aromatase inhibitor for around five years.  They were then randomized to an additional five years on an aromatase inhibitor or to placebo.  Results indicated that 95% of women on the aromatase inhibitor were disease free at five years compared with 91% of those on placebo. More women developed breast cancer in the other breast in the placebo group than in the group taking the aromatase inhibitor. While those on the active drug did experience more bone pain, new onset osteoporosis, and bone fractures, Rick and I agree that the reduction in risk for breast cancer recurrence seems worth it, and that's good news.

Other studies this week include an analysis of the Mediterranean diet in Annals of Internal Medicine, risk of breast cancer following IVF in JAMA, and in Neurology, a look at whether HRT improves cognition.  Until next week, y'all live well.

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